2020 AGM Site Officers’ report

Site Officers report for AGM 2020

Much of the past year has been dominated by Covid, for most of us. We were really fortunate that allotments were allowed to stay open throughout. The committee decided that, because of Covid, the usual summer inspection of plots would not take place. As it turned out, most plots were really well cultivated throughout the growing season. There were a few plot holders who were unable to work on their plots because of Covid but either their neighbours or one of our volunteers nobly helped by strimming their edges.

The gate padlock has been quite a saga during the past few months. The trusty old chunky padlock, which had served us well for so many years, finally collapsed in the summer. The Dulwich Estate replaced it with a rather cumbersome lock which some people had difficulty operating. We contacted Dulwich Estate who then replaced it with a keypad lock. This worked well for a while but then also failed. We now have a line-up-the-number padlock which is working OK, so far. The gate is being locked most of the time, though we still sometimes have to remind the contractors. As a result, fly tipping hasn’t been too much of an issue during the past year, apart from some massive logs and one or two other unwelcome loads.

Drainage continues to be an issue and paths are becoming muddy already. It’s most important that we all maintain good, clear ditches all around our allotments. This winter, we are experimenting with closing off paths when they become too muddy but rotating this. Last year, we laid mesh grid along some paths but this became loose and a hazard, once path mowing started. Many thanks to our watermen, David & Alex, who keep an eye on the site’s drainage and the state of the main ditches.

The driveway through the site is in a pretty poor condition again, with many potholes. The Dulwich Estate has said we can use a pile of scrapings, just inside the woods. We’re looking into getting that moved onto the site when, hopefully, noble souls will volunteer to work on the potholes.

Tree surgeons recently removed some split and overhanging branches along the northwest boundary of the site. Three of the magnificent oak trees, along our northeast boundary with the golf course, have low lying branches, which are seriously overhanging allotments down that end. The Dulwich Estate has verbally agreed to some pruning of these trees. We await estimates for this work but, unfortunately, tree surgery does not come cheap. We will also be obtaining an estimate for some tree work in the apiary.

Bees in a small apiary in the northeast corner of the site caused problems for a nearby plot holder and his family, during the summer. In July, the committee agreed that these hives should move up to the southeast corner of the site, on the far end of the existing apiary. Work is in progress to bring this about. It was also suggested that Gunsite should have a bee keeping policy and this is underway.

Again this year, we have benefited hugely from regular, free deliveries of manure and mulch from the palace – our thanks to Robert for organising this. We never know in advance when loads are arriving and there has been some recent concern about its equitable distribution amongst plot holders. Hopefully, our recent email, suggesting maximum loads per plot holder, will help with this.page1image4266944

The Gunsite notice board finally collapsed during the summer. Our thanks to plot holder Chris for his expert repair. Consideration is being given to replacing the current notice board and siting it in a more accessible spot.

As ever, the smooth running of Gunsite has been enormously helped by many volunteers. We all owe you a big thank you. Some have been mentioned already but we also need to thank:

–  Philip & William who have continued to run the shop which has been on-line since lockdown in March. Gavin & Rosemary assist with this.

–  footpaths are mowed by five volunteers: Danny, Nigel, Paul, Mark, James L and John B. William gave up mowing in the summer, after many years of noble service. Our thanks also to John B & Nelly who look after the mowing machines and strimmers.

–  Patrick who looks after the skip. He works wonders in putting up boards along the sides and treading the contents down, so the skip only needs replacing two or three times a year. Another volunteer John P, recently disposed of the massive heap of cardboard which had been dumped beside the skip.

–  Philip and William have had regular bonfires to dispose of our wood pile. James B recently organised the disposal of our waste metal collection. The dumping end of the site is looking very neat just now, as a result of all of this.

–  Eugene continues to look after the taps and to read regularly the hugely inaccessible water meter.

–  a number of plot holders have helped with taming vacant plots. Others have strimmed the edges of unattended plots (due to Covid) and helped on the site in other ways. Our thanks to Crispin, Lorna, Marjorie, Nigel T, Mike, Bill, Colin, Chris and Peter. And our apologies to anyone whose name we’ve left off here.Finally, since the last AGM, eight allotments have been reallocated, all, of which were half-plots, of 2.5 rods each. There are currently four vacant allotments which will be reallocated as soon as lockdown ends and the Covid rules allow. The waiting list stood at just below 200 at the beginning of the year but then ballooned during the spring and summer. So, in April, the committee agreed to close the waiting list when it reached 250 and to reopen it, when it falls to 150. The waiting list was duly closed in August. It currently stands at 246 which means about an eight year wait for folk at the end of it.

Liz, Jane & Nigel Site Officers